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Acknowledging Young Team Members

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Here's another interesting question I received from a student in the University of Maryland's e-Business and Project Management Program conflicts resolution course:

I enjoyed the book and I, too, am convinced that recognizing someone for a job well done makes them feel appreciated for their efforts.

There is another side to this coin, however, that I think needs to be addressed. The generation currently entering the workforce expects to be praised for everything they do.

Being raised in an era when everyone is a winner so as not to hurt their feelings and where everyone gets an award just for participating, they come into the workplace thinking that any accomplishment no matter how small should somehow be recognized.

What would you do in a situation like this so as to keep them engaged yet not play into their feelings that they are somehow entitled to praise?


We keep hearing that young people have been so over-validated and acknowledged for the most meager of contributions that they now expect it wherever they go. The generation gap is well established in the United States, but I checked with some colleagues in Europe and Asia who report the same issues there.

Younger workers seem to be getting a bad rap simply for being different from their older colleagues--and that's not entirely fair.

Elizabeth Kearney, Ph.D. says in the article "It Takes Six Steps to Build a Cross Generational Team," these younger people have been encouraged to:

1.    Step out and discover new ways to do things
2.    Move quickly
3.    Feel free to ask questions and expect them to be answered
4.    Believe in themselves and their ideas
5.    Use a team approach to solving problems
6.    Readily share their views
7.    Expect praise for their actions, which means that they may well react negatively when told "no."
8.    Expect help when it is needed--coaching, support and/or encouragement

These are not bad qualities. They are excellent, action-oriented, results-producing characteristics if properly utilized and appreciated by project leaders and key stakeholders.
We want to validate these people for the ways they help us meet our project goals, stay within our timelines and meet our budgets.

But the way we deliver this form of praise needs to be quick, specific, clear, yet heartfelt. If they expect praise for their actions, give it to them--but only when it is deserved.


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1 Comment

I have observed that young people often expects to be praised for their efforts and not for the very results

I agree we should praise young people ( as well as everybody) good performance but we need to be prepared to be adressed when the goals are not met

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